Book 2023

2. Arts and Health: Good Practices International

2.1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts and Health

An international Research Centre

In October 2021, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts and Health was launched at University College London (UCL). It is the only research centre of its kind and builds on a previous four-year collaboration between UCL and the WHO Regional Office Europe on arts and health, which included the publication of the Health Evidence Synthesis Report ”What is the evidence of the role of the arts in improving health and well-being”.

The Collaboration Centre is working on the analysis and dissemination of data from longitudinal cohort studies on the long-term effects of arts and cultural engagement on mental and physical health and the mechanisms underlying these effects. It will also work with governments internationally to develop strategies to support the use of the arts to achieve global development goals, e.g. with projects such as “Breathe Melodies for Mums”.


2.2. The United Kingdom

The Blueprint

Stakeholders in the arts, health services and politics in the UK have pioneered Arts and Health since the beginning of this century which has now become a global movement. In the UK, there are numerous projects, a sound evidence base and a lively debate about the role of the arts for health. In 2017, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing published the report: “Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing” which led to the establishment of a National Centre for Creative Health as a pivot point of a network of key players of the health and culture sector. Social Prescribing has promoted arts for health interventions on the local level. The organization Arts4Dementia has established a nationwide network and a database of dementia friendly events.


2.3. Finland

Art and culture in a changing social and health care system

Currently, in Finland, the arts and health perspective is integrated mainly within the framework of preventive health promotion. In many municipalities arts and culture have already been included in the municipality’s welfare report, which is a legal document, a tool for planning, evaluation, and monitoring of municipal welfare policies.

In terms of monitoring, one of the key developments in recent years has been the inclusion of culture in an online service that describes as well as supports the planning and management of health and social promotion including cultural activities on the municipal and regional level.

In the new implementation plan of the Government Resolution “Promoting Wellbeing, Health and Safety 2030”, launched in April 2021, arts and culture play a prominent role. For example, the plan promotes the adoption of participatory cultural practices at the national level and the use of arts and culture as part of Mental Health Skills. It also includes strict guidelines for the promotion and implementation of “Arts and Health“ activities in the collaboration of government departments.


2.4. Denmark

With some references to Norway and Sweden

Within the national recommendation framework of Denmark, the continuous employment of music therapists in the hospice setting has been a sustained success.

In Norway, the government health authority also recognizes and funds music therapy for the treatment of people with dementia. Recommendations are made by physicians and experts in music therapy so that an effective process of patient care can be realized.

In contrast to project-based initiatives, these are examples of how the arts can be embedded in a health care system through genuine and equal partnership collaboration between artists and health professionals.


2.5. The Netherlands

The example of the province of Fryslân (Friesland)

In the Netherlands, the national government provides the legal basis for the implementation of policy measures in provinces and municipalities. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science do not yet have a common policy to promote the integration of arts and culture in health care.

The role of provinces such as Fryslân (Friesland) in the field of culture is to promote the diversity and dissemination of cultural institutions in their region. However, the provincial cultural policy (2017-2020) already explicitly stated that culture, sports, and education would be more closely linked to health and welfare. Initially, the focus was primarily on older people. In the cultural policy report titled “New Podium 2021-2024,” the goals for “culture in society” are no longer limited to the elderly. In Fryslân (Friesland) arts and health interventions range from projects with an advanced artistic value with equal collaboration between cultural and health professionals to small-scale projects based on more local collaboration and the focus on social participation.


2.6. Republic of Ireland

Arts and Health in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity

“Arts and Health” programs in Ireland are taking place in a number of health care facilities. The projects are usually initiated by artists and only take place when sufficient funding can be secured, which usually comes from a variety of partners. There was no example or report of an “Arts and Health” project that was funded either by health professionals and/or by the group of individuals to whom the project was directed.

A number of national policies recognize the link between arts and well-being and the value and benefits of such an overlap, but bridging the gap in policy implementation remains a challenge. Efforts to bridge this gap are reflected in RENEW, a partnership of four stakeholder organizations. However, this partnership is at an early stage of its existence, implications for advancing a strategic approach to policy and delivery for Arts and Health in Ireland is not yet foreseeable.


2.7. Highlights from the USA

Arts and Health as a topic of prominent cultural institutions

Under the umbrella of “Arts in Health” or “Neuroarts,” there is a dynamic move toward the emergence of a potentially transformative new field in the arts, health and well-being across the United States and Canada. Main drivers are the Longwood Symphony at Harvard University, an orchestra of doctors and students with the accompanying social program “The Healing Art of Music”; the Shands Arts in Medicine Center at the University of Florida; “Healing Arts New York”, a collaboration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York University; or the “Sound Health Network”, a partnership of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts Endowment and the soprano Renée Fleming, the centre’s artistic advisor.